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    Is it necessary to use a special food for castrated dogs?

    Castrated dogs, like castrated cats, have reduced energy needs compared to intact dogs and a different eating behaviour. This can cause a tendency to gain weight if their diet is not controlled. A good strategy to prevent obesity in these animals is to use food for castrated dogs.

    Obesity in castrated dogs: an adversary to be defeated

    According to a study by Colliard et al. (2006), castrated dogs are 2.26 times more likely to be obese.  In fact, castration is one of the major risk factors for developing obesity.

    The prevalence of obesity in castrated dogs is between 32% for males and 32.6% for females, as reported by Lund et al. (2006).

    Obesity can cause serious health problems for castrated dogs. It may lead to insulin resistance, dyslipidaemia, cardiorespiratory diseases, kidney problems and an increase in cancer and orthopaedic diseases.

    Different strategies to avoid overweight in castrated dogs

    It is important to make lifestyle changes at various levels for castrated dogs. The benefits of a reduced energy intake through food for castrated dogs should be maximised by increased physical activity.

    1. Dietary changes: Following surgical castration, weight gain can be avoided by reducing the animal’s energy intake by 20–30% compared to their preoperative intake (Anantharaman-Barr, 1990; Jeusette et al., 2004). The only treatment that has proven effective in weight loss is a restricted energy intake.1

    However, a lower energy intake is not achieved by simply reducing the amount of food, as this could make the castrated dog feel even hungrier, thus worsening the problem. In addition, dietary impoverishment could lead to a deficiency of certain nutrients such as essential fatty acids, vitamins and trace elements.

    A key to successful weight reduction in castrated dogs is enhancing the animal’s sense of satiety by increasing its intake of proteins and medium-chain fatty acids. Special food for castrated dogs can be used to achieve this end.These dog foods are based on a reduced calorie intake thanks to the inclusion of more dietary fibre and less fat.

    2. Exercise: The advantages of administering a diet comprising food for castrated dogs should be enhanced by increasing the dog’s physical activity. The animal’s lifestyle must be modified so that it exercises more, as this will increase weight loss.1

    Even when an increase in a dog’s physical activity is not associated with weight loss, it produces other health benefits thanks to the cardiovascular effects (improved heart rate recovery after exercise).

    Jeusette et al., 2006